June 25, 2020 Print

Executive Order No. 2020-11, section 4, which temporarily suspends Certificate of Need requirements for hospital beds in South Carolina, was signed in March by Governor Henry McMaster, opening the doors for hospitals to purchase and receive beds much faster without having to worry about the lengthy and unpredictable process of requesting a state certificate.

In January, Palmetto Promise Institute, an Atlas Network partner in South Carolina, produced the Healthcare Freedom Agenda, a report with concrete recommendations for reform that specified repealing unnecessary government obstacles to healthcare access, including certificate of need requirements, and providing lower costs for care across the state. 

Certificates of need are state regulatory mechanisms for establishing or expanding healthcare facilities and services in a given area. Prior to the executive order, healthcare providers in South Carolina that required additional beds had to receive approval from the state’s Department of Health and Environmental Control. 

“Our formula for success has always been ‘research + relationships = results,’” explained Palmetto Promise’s CEO and president, Ellen Weaver. “That tried and true approach paid dividends once again in this instance.” 

Governor McMaster has called on the Palmetto Promise Institute’s expertise on a variety of issues, most recently about a month prior to the COVID outbreak to discuss certificate of need regulations. “So when the pandemic struck,” continued Weaver, “it was a quick call to the Governor’s staff—providing them with chapter and verse of what other states such as North Carolina were doing to head off bed capacity shortages like those that hamstrung New York’s COVID response—to make sure they knew urgent action was needed. The Governor’s executive order was issued the next day.”

Palmetto Promise Institute hopes the positive benefits of this executive order will encourage lawmakers to refile legislation to permanently repeal CON limitations when the Executive Order sunsets. “We will continue to write on the issue and push it in the media,” explained Weaver. “Our partnership with Atlas Network positioned us to be ready to go with just the right research and communications tools when the moment of opportunity struck. This fight isn’t finished, but it is well-begun.”

Atlas Network supported this project with a Liberating Enterprise to Advance Prosperity (now Poverty & Freedom) grant.